Cover Story: Five Tips to Improve Your Golf Events

On most golf courses, trees are a splendid reminder that golf is a unique sporting endeavor, played in the soothing arena of nature. But, some attendees just can't see the forest for ht trees. Subtle shifts such as changes in the demographic makeup of attendees and the business climate for sponsors make it dangerous to rely on the beauty of the course to carry your tournament. Here are five ideas that can help ensure that your event rises far above being just "par for the course."

TIP #1
Here's Your "Q" to Be Creative

There are many ways to use golf during a meeting or incentive program to foster camaraderie among the golfers and the nongolfers in your group. These include mini-golf tournaments set on the practice putting green; contests on the driving range for players of all skill levels; night-time golf on two or three holes illuminated by lights strung through the trees; and simulated-golf machines set up in a ballroom or prefunction area. In fact, each of these activities can take place during a cocktail reception, or even during a meeting break.

But another golf-inspired activity is catching the attention of meeting planners using the Seaview Marriott Resort — Spa in Galloway, NJ, just outside Atlantic City. The activity, which originated in South Africa, is called QOLF, and it's a cross between croquet and golf. The resort has created two six-hole layouts for the game, in which players attempt to hit small plastic balls through two-foot high frames that contain two openings. Conservative players can aim their 10- to 15-yard shot towards the lower arch, while aggressive players can attempt to send the ball through the upper arch for bonus points.

QOLF is different enough from golf so that nongolfers will feel comfortable playing alongside skilled golfers, says Tim Cahill, Seaview Marriott's director of marketing. And it's likely that more Marriotts will come to offer the game, though Cahill adds that his staff would assist other Marriotts in setting up the game for any upcoming meetings.

For more information visit, www.seaviewgolf.com.

TIP #2
Meet You at the Club

If you're looking to create a unique atmosphere for attendees at your next resort meeting, consider this: Many resorts have upscale golf clubhouses that not only house the golf shop and a bar/restaurant, but also house well-appointed meeting space offering soothing views of the golf course.

The latest major addition to the roster of meetings-friendly clubhouses is the one at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, just outside Charleston, SC. This new venue, with 3,000 square feet of meeting space across four rooms on the second floor, debuted at this year's Senior PGA Championship, an event held on the famed Ocean Course just outside the clubhouse doors.

With panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the facility features wrap-around porches and shingle-style architectural details. It includes the PGA Room, the Senior PGA room, and the World Cup Room, all of which can be combined into one 1,698-square-foot room by removing airwalls for a 120-person banquet. Champions' Hall is a 792-square-foot space adjacent to the three rooms, providing a prefunction area. Then there's the high-tech Dye Boardroom, named for Ocean Course designer Pete Dye.

Other resorts with dedicated meeting space inside their golf clubhouses include Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN; Westin Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, FL; Turning Stone Resort & Casino outside Syracuse, NY; and Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head, SC. So the next time you're booking meeting space at a resort, inquire whether the golf clubhouse could be a suitable venue.

For more information visit, www.kiawahresort.com.

TIP#3
Host Your Own ESPN Show

A day of golf instruction that's only for you and a handful of coworkers or clients is a memorable bonding event. And the latest golf-school concept to come into the market is aiming right for that niche.

ESPN Golf Schools Presented by American Express provides a full day of golf instruction via teams of three instructors. These trios host scheduled dates at golf courses around the country, but they can also come to your locale upon request.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the school is that the teaching is focused around just three clubs: the driver, the wedge, and the putter. Why? Because these three clubs account for 75 percent of all strokes made on a golf course. As a result, each group of up to six students rotates through three stations; one addresses hitting the driver, one addresses chipping and pitching with the wedge, and one addresses putting with proper alignment and stroke. Classes also include fundamentals such as proper posture, grip pressure, and alignment to the target, plus stretching techniques.

Cost per student is $525; visit www.espngolf schools.com for more information.

TIP #3
Disney Adds New Themed Golf Events

Let's face it: For many attendees, an 18-hole group golf outing can feel terribly long. Most golf courses and golf planners understand this, which is why they allow sponsors to set up activities on the tee boxes of some holes and entertain participants as they make their way around the course.

But some resorts take the idea of entertainment-oriented golf to a whole other level. One recent example: Walt Disney World Resort in Kissimmee, FL, has built full themes into golf events, including "Putters of the Caribbean," "Around the World in 18 Holes," and "Pro Golf Tour."

"Putters of the Caribbean" not only rolls out a handful of pirates to roam the golf course and interact with players, but it also turns players into pirates themselves. Each foursome is a pirate crew, charged not only with making low golf scores but also with "capturing" each green, collecting gold pieces, and gobbling pirate grub while gulping down grog. And "Around the World in 18 Holes" features a tour guide who leads players to exotic international destinations that can be found along the course. This theme allows participants to experience the traditions, music, and cuisine of nations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas on practically every hole.

Finally, the "Pro Golf Tour" theme begins with participants walking from the clubhouse to their first tee through a phalanx of screaming fans and flashing cameras. Then, each player is announced to the crowd as he or she tees off; later, on-course reporters interview players during the match while cameramen record the interaction for viewing at that night's reception. And throughout the event, player biographies flash onto each cart's television screen.

Such themes are sure to keep the interest of every participant over the roughly five hours they'll spend on the golf course.

For more information visit, www.disneymeetings .com.

TIP #5
Getting Women Into the Swing

When planning your 2008 golf outings, keep in mind that more women might come out to play if your event happens after the week of June 1-8. The reason: That is the date of American Express Women's Golf Week, an event created four years ago in response to demand for golf education addressing the specific needs, expectations, and time constraints of female players.

More than 1,300 golf courses and clubs across the country act as Women's Golf Week host facilities, offering free golf lessons plus other activities such as networking receptions, golf rules and etiquette seminars, golf apparel fashion shows, and contests.

Women's Golf Week is coordinated jointly by the Executive Women's Golf Association (EWGA), the Ladies' PGA, the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA), and the PGA of America.

For more information, visit www.womensgolfweek.org.

Originally published December 01, 2007

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